Before taking the leap from a secure job (is that even a thing these days?) into the unpredictable world of self-employment, there are a few things you should know before becoming a freelance copywriter. I’m coming from a place of “been there, done it,” so I have some advice that might help you with your journey.

While I’m still finding my feet, these are the five things I’d encourage you to think about before you dive in. After all, fail to prepare and prepare to fail… (Soz, couldn’t resist!)

1.   Have some clients on the side

Unless your circumstances don’t allow it, it’s wise to build up a bank of clients before quitting your job. Start networking and getting your name out there – word of mouth is a powerful tool and it won’t be long before your services are in demand.

Nurture these relationships. In doing so, your clients will recommend your services to colleagues and peers who are looking for a copywriter. Boom – job done. You’ve got yourself a client base to get started with.

2.   Build a portfolio

Try to find some easy gigs to get your portfolio up and running. This will provide you with work to show potential clients if they ask for it.

You don’t necessarily need an all-singing, all-dancing website to start with, but having an online blog to showcase your work is the easiest way to keep everything in one place.

Eventually, you might want a website that showcases your services and tone of voice, but you might be more comfortable investing once you’ve earned some money to put back into your business.

Also, NEVER WORK FOR FREE!

3.   Get your prices nailed

Whether you choose to charge per word or project or prefer an hourly or daily rate, you should set your standard rate from the get-go so that you don’t fall short.

Ask any other freelance copywriter and we’ll all have a different idea on what you should charge. My advice would be to avoid charging by the word. This doesn’t reflect the research time your copy needs or your skills and experience.

ProCopywriters has put together a great guide on suggested rates for hiring copywriters. Ultimately, you need to charge what’s right for you, but this document is an excellent place to start.

4.   Sort an accountant

As per UK law, you pay tax on all earnings over £1,000. Even if your copywriting business is just your side hustle for now, that amount doesn’t stretch very far. So, it’s best to get an accountant on your books or at least find someone who can do your yearly tax return.

It’s dull and tedious and not creative in the slightest. But finding someone to do the boring bits leaves you with more time to do the stuff you’re good at. It’s a no-brainer – but do it sooner rather than later so that you don’t have to worry about it while you’re busy looking for work.

5. Don’t let anyone stop you

When you’re ready to hand your notice in, it’s normal you’ll want to ask your nearest and dearest for advice. But if your gut is telling you the time is right, follow it. Nothing is permanent, so if you find your freelance career doesn’t work out or it’s not quite right for you, you can follow a different path instead.

So, are you ready to tackle your new adventure? If this article has inspired you, I’d love to hear about it. Please get in touch on lmcgachie@yahoo.co.uk to let me know.

Pssst, calling all business owners… I currently have space in my diary for new projects, so if you’re looking for an experienced and talented freelance copywriter (who’s not too comfortable with self-praise), get in touch.

Wow, what a year 2020 has been. If you’re reading this having felt the full effects of COVID-19, I am so sorry. Though, with endings come new beginnings. If you’re planning to make the leap into freelancing because your job circumstances have changed – good for you. While scary, freelancing is super rewarding and can unlock a whole new, flexible way of working.

But it’s important to remember that the self-employed life is not all sunshine and rainbows. Freelancing can be lonely. I recently caught up with fellow freelancer Sam, who has given me a few tips on how to tackle the loneliness you might feel while freelancing…

Tips on beating freelancer loneliness

“Setting up a business from home is a big decision. Whilst it has a whole variety of benefits for you to think about, there can also be a couple of drawbacks. Being lonely is one of them. Loneliness can be much harder to deal with then you may realise. And when you are someone who spends all day by themselves, it can really have an impact on your mental and physical wellbeing.

The thing with being lonely as a freelancer is that it can be hard to fix. After all, it’s not like you can suddenly hire a team to work with you just because you don’t want to be on your own. So, to help you out I want to share with you some of the easiest ways to beat loneliness when you are a freelancer.”

Work in a shared space

“Shared working spaces are definitely becoming more popular, and with good reason. They give freelancers a space to work in alongside other freelancers who also would otherwise be working from home alone.

You can work in a shared space as often or as little as you want – you usually can pay as you go. The space will usually have a desk for all, facilities to make a drink as well as shared open space. You can arrange furniture to network with the others working there should you wish to.”

Head outside for a walk

“Fresh air is an incredibly useful tool for your mental and physical wellbeing. Especially when you are someone who spends a large chunk of their time at home on their own. Getting outside in the fresh air not only means that you are going to be away from your working space, giving yourself a well-earned break, but you can also see people in the real world. This will make you remember that you are not completely alone.”

Listen to a podcast

“What about if you are sat in your at-home office? What can you do, then, to feel less lonely? A great option is to listen to a podcast. You can find a podcast that is going to interest you, which will always be much easier to listen to. Not only will you feel that you have learnt something, but simply by hearing voices, you are much more likely to feel that you are part of a conversation and that you are not completely alone in the world.”

Make video calls with other freelancers

“The great thing about this modern way of working is that there are more and more people who are based at home and work remotely. Chances are, you will find someone who is in much the same position as you. So, why not arrange a catch up with them on a video call? This can be as regularly as you can both manage. But the idea is that you not only have a friendly face to see, but that you also can share ideas, tips and maybe even create an important business link with one another.

Working for yourself as a freelancer is great. However, there are certain things that you are going to need to do to make sure that you don’t feel lonely and that you instead feel that you part of a wider world of those who work from home.”

Remember, you’re not alone. If you need to reach out, even for a friendly chat because you’re feeling overwhelmed, email me at lmcgachie@yahoo.co.uk.  

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. Being completely honest, I’m quite an obsessive person — one minute I go all in on the latest fad, the next I’m totally over it. But, I do recognise the benefit of setting some clear goals to help focus the year while hitting some professional and personal targets. So with that in mind, here are just a few New Year’s resolutions I’ve made for this year to try and keep my progress in check. 2020, I’m ready for you… 

Leave more time for the fun stuff

With a full time job and freelancing on the side, it’s safe to say there’s not much time left in my week to go out and do the things I really love. Sure, copywriting is my passion, but nothing beats the feeling of getting out there and spending a few hours of uninterrupted me-time. From walks along the beach to cycle rides exploring the village I live in, there’s so much to do in my hometown. Problem is, I don’t do it. So, 2020 is all about taking some time out, leaving the laptop at home and taking in the wonder of the UK. If it’s out there then so am I.

Do more blogging

As you’re reading this blog, you’ll notice I’ve already made a good start! I’ve had my website for about eight months now, and in that time I’ve managed to publish one blog post. I can do better than that. So once a month, I’m going to publish a new blog post about anything and everything — and stick to it. Watch this space…

Eat waaay more healthily 

Last year I became a vegetarian and no doubt, it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done. However, over the Christmas period I’ve started to slip into some bad eating habits — too much chocolate, full fat coke, not enough protein… You know the drill. This year I’m getting back to the gym, hitting bigger weights and tracking my macros to make sure I’m staying on target with my food goals. I’ve also recently discovered allplants — a vegan frozen food delivery service that’s low in calories and high in protein. I haven’t signed up yet, but I’m going to give it a go to see what it’s all about. It could be the start of something delicious (and healthy).

That’s it for now. I don’t have many resolutions and they’re not particularly hard to achieve, but they mean a lot to me. Plus, I need to find goals I can stick to, and I think I can just about manage these.

I’m just going to put it out there – juggling a full-time job with a freelance career is HARD work. I’ve been there. You want to get a bit of extra cash while doing something you’re good at, but it’s just too risky to leave your secure full-time job. Then, after a while, the projects start rolling in and life becomes a crazy blur of deadlines, saying yes to every job (more on that later) and trying to keep your under-eye bags hidden from your boss.

Nope, freelancing isn’t easy.

But it doesn’t have to stay this way forever. I know what it can be like – tried and tested – so I’ve got a few tips and hints on how to make life easier while you’re transitioning from full-time to working on your own terms with your freelance career.

Stop saying yes to every job

It’s tough. You don’t like letting people down and besides, you want to add new clients to your books. But you need to be realistic with your time. You won’t be able to do everything, especially when you’re putting all your efforts and energies into full-time work, so you’ll need to learn to start saying no. And that’s okay!

If I haven’t got the time for a new client, I send them a polite message explaining that I’ve got a bit too much work going on right now to give their project the full attention they deserve. This keeps relations good, and I always invite them to come back to me on their next project so I can free up some time for them. Next time give that a go, and if you know of any other freelancers looking for work – send the client their way. It’s a win-win.

Make time for yourself

It can be too easy to use every single second of your spare time squeezing in new freelance projects. This might be fine at first, but pretty quickly you’ll start to become tired. Really tired. And you’ll start to feel guilty about going out and having fun instead of working on that upcoming project.

STOP!

Your mental health is just as important as going outside and getting some fresh air, so make sure you put some time aside from your freelance career every week to just do you. Whether that’s slobbing out on the sofa, hitting the gym or having a well-earned cocktail night with your friends, put yourself first. You’re worth it.

Trust your gut

It’s great to take yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things every once in a while. That’s the best way to grow as a writer. But if a project just doesn’t ‘feel’ right, trust your gut and walk away.

There’s a very fine line between doing something new, and doing something that you have no idea about. One of my first freelancing jobs was to write a bunch of dating site reviews. At first, I wasn’t sure. I’d never used a dating site before and I just wasn’t convinced I was the right person for the job. But I gave it a go anyway because the client was someone I really wanted to work with. And you know what, it’s was one of my favourite projects to date.

You know yourself and your skills best, so do what you feel is right. 

If you need an extra pair of hands with your project, get in touch or check out my portfolio to find out more about my work.